Peace Corps: Sunset Positions – An Unstructured Situation

Marian Haley Beil  has posted the list of the five pages of the Peace Corps positions which are being sunset.    This information was obtained from FOIA 17-0166, submitted in August 2017 and received on February 9th, 2018.  Here is the background:

Peace Corps is caught in a riptide of conflicting directives. It must reduce its staff by 20%; address the “Management Challenges” identified by the OIG; and, continue to place and support serving Volunteers. All of this must be done effectively, efficiently and equitably. The support of the RPCV community is going to be more important than ever. Let us look more closely at each “challenge”, beginning with the 20% staff reduction.

In May of 2017, President Trump directed all federal agencies to prepare a plan to reduce staff by 20%. Acting Peace Corps Director RPCV Crowley had each department prepare a list of jobs to be “sunset”.In August of 2017, Crowley announced the survey was complete and tht reduction of those positions would begin.

By August of 2017, many of the permanent management positions were not filled, including “political appointments”. Temporary or “acting”Managers made the decision on which positions to “sunset”. This means all permanent managers coming on board after August 2017, will be dealing with departments undergoing drastic changes. The “new”managers will have had no input into these changes.

RPCV Jody Olsen, nominated to be Peace Corps Director, will face precisely this situation, if and when confirmed. Ironically, this is another reason only RPCVs should staff Peace Corps. Who among us did not arrive at site to find the job for which we trained was nonexistent or not as “advertised” or we were not even expected. A request for help to Peace Corps staff, often was met with the cryptic “Unstructured situation, deal with it”.

Please find here the August memo from Acting Director Crowley.

  • Agency Memo Regarding FY18 Operating Plans and Comprehensive Workforce Plan, Thursday, August 3, 2017

Over the past six months I have shared several updates with staff regarding the activities the Peace Corps has undertaken in response to external directives, including the Hiring Freeze Presidential Memorandum, the Reorganization Executive Order, and the Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Civilian Workforce. The Peace Corps has simultaneously commenced the development of our strategic and operating plans in alignment with the President’s FY18 Budget Request. We are doing our utmost to provide support to our employees and manage the immediate and long-term changes that will result from these activities. On May 23, 2017, I announced in a message to staff that the President released his FY18 budget to Congress. The Peace Corps’ proposed request for FY18 is $398 million, of which $383 million is allocated for agency operations. As in years past, senior leadership and the chief financial officer issued guidance on budget and proposed staffing levels on June 7, 2017 so that offices could begin formulating their FY18 Operating Plans. Each office has been carefully reviewing operating budgets and making a concerted effort to reduce spending by finding efficiencies in their operations while maintaining quality support to our Volunteers. The Peace Corps is required to begin taking immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings. When the operating plans are finalized on August 7, 2017, each office will be expected to begin the process of rightsizing its operations in order to reach FY18 budget and planned staffing targets. Each office has necessarily identified positions that will not be backfilled when the incumbents reach their NTE (not to exceed date), leave the agency, are reassigned, or accept another position. You will hear these positions referred to as “sunset positions” in the coming weeks. Supervisors will speak to employees who occupy sunset positions the week of August 7 and I will host two Town Hall sessions on August 11 to address this process in-person. The agency will share information with staff to the fullest extent possible, as well as offer resources to assist staff through this time of change. We understand that this will be challenging and I deeply appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we work through these difficult decisions and develop processes to ensure effective operations. We have approached this challenge with a deep respect for the Peace Corps’ unique institutional culture and all of you—a mission driven staff that is critical to our success—and a strong commitment to keeping our Volunteers and staff safe and productive in the field. We remain steadfast in our commitment to a strong, resilient Peace Corps. We are pursuing an approach to these external directives that honors our 56-year legacy and ensures that our vital work carries on. Together, as a community, we will work through this period of change.

Peace Corps Internal Communication

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Unfortunately, the Peace Corps has been top-heavy for about a generation. Somehow, the agency lost the notion of “support staff.” The tail has been waggin’ the dog. It is no coincidence that even after twenty years of sexual abuse, the agency was recently chastised for not dealing with this serious problem. Equally appalling is how returning volunteer’s health is still a festering wound. Hopefully, the agency can trim fat and reinvent itself, dealing with volunteer problems. There is no agency without volunteers. My recent trip to Panama to visit my PCV son was disappointing. The office reminded me of a large multi-national corporation devoid of that contagious “ca-do” attitude- that strange buzz of youthful dedication to a cause.

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